I know a lot of vloggers are getting into the writing business and I am one of those readers/bloggers that has some issue with that. There are writers that work their butts off for years to get published, but someone that is popular on YouTube suddenly has the knowledge to write a book AND get it published? Please forgive me if I’m not jumping out of my chair to buy their book. I also know there is a LOT of controversy around this particular book because the guy probably didn’t write it himself but the ghostwriter isn’t credited. That doesn’t sit well with me either. But those (massive) points aside, I gave this a try. I went in with low expectations and I was still disappointed.
Short recap: If you have read one dystopian, you’ve read this story line. Rowan is an illegal “second child”. She and her family live in Eden where there is a strict one child law. Her parents feel they are beyond the law and kept her hidden away for sixteen years. She sneaks out one night in an act of rebellion and soon becomes addicted to the sights and sounds of Eden… until things go wrong.
There are so many reasons I DNFd this:
- Unoriginal storyline
- Far too much time was spent on world building and not enough time on character development
- Rowan, the MC, was badly, badly written
- Odd writing style
Let’s expand on these topics, shall we?
Unoriginal storyline. This felt like nearly every other dystopian I have read and know that I have read a great majority of them. Rowan and her family live in a time when the world has died because of what Man did almost 200 years before. It simply cannot support a large population anymore so a select group have been chosen to live in Eden, a city that is self-sustaining. Everything is controlled – including the population. Adults are only permitted to have one child. In the case of twins, one is either terminated before birth or after. Pretty straight forward but nothing original at all. It continued this way for a major of the story I read. There was just a massive info dump about everything that goes into keeping Eden running – including what happens to people’s bodily waste. Are you serious. That is totally unnecessary, must like the exact details given in this story.
Far too much time was spent on world building and not enough time on character development. There really was a massive info dump about Eden, the place these characters are living but that was it. There was almost no character development from any character. How am I supposed to connect with anyone if I don’t know anything about them? I didn’t know their likes, dislikes, thoughts, feelings, emotions, nada. These characters felt completely devoid of all emotions. The author (or ghostwriter?) could have put robots in place of the people and the end result would have been the same.
Rowan, the MC, was badly, badly written now. Rowan was supposed to be the protagonist but I felt like I didn’t know anything about her. I knew she was the second twin and apparently very illegal. She was living a secret life stuck behind the walls of her house. She was still educated and had a strict physical regime but that was about it. In regards to her personally, she was a self-centered, shallow, whiny, naive brat that I would never, ever want to be friends with. I also knew that she had zero issues with putting her family at risk by sneaking out of the house. Again, are you serious. Her family put everything on the line to keep her alive and safe but she doesn’t think that’s a big deal so she starts sneaking out of the house. Give me a break. I couldn’t wrap my head around why she was the protagonist. She didn’t feel like she was standing up to anything, instead she was ungrateful and unappreciative for what her family sacrificed to keep her safe.
Odd writing style. The writing just was not good. It felt choppy and unvetted, as if it still hadn’t be put through the editing process. Example: Rowan must have had an undiagnosed mental issue or something because her emotions were all over the charts. She could be happy and content one moment, then in the blink of an eye she became super restless and demanding. I almost had whiplash from the back and forth. And should we mention the made up cuss words? Stop doing that. When Rowan became flustered she would say “bik” or something equally stupid. Uh.. huh? How was I supposed to know that was an action of frustration and not her having a tourettes moment? The author (or ghostwriter?) would spend a lot of time (again) talking about the layout of Eden, only to talk about how the streets are supposed to light up for residents but they don’t for Rowan, and then jumps back to talking about the wasteland outside of the city walls. The things that needed expanding were ignored and the things that didn’t matter were given more info than what I knew what to do with.
Instalove. My most disliked topic. When Rowan snuck out of her house and wandered the streets of Eden, she found a way to run into a girl at her brother’s school that she is obsessed with. She had never met this girl before but was hard core upset when her brother wouldn’t give her every single detail of what the girl was wearing. She threw a fit and stayed mad for hours because her brother didn’t know what shade of yellow the girl was wearing. Rowan was hung up on that detail for a long time, “Was it butterscotch or warm yellow? Why couldn’t he remember?!“WHO CARES. Those kind of details meant nothing but Rowan was hung up on this. She became even more stalker-obsessed after running into the girl at a club she wasn’t supposed to be at. I didn’t like the girl (can’t even remember her name) and never understood the instalove connection.
I am always game for a good dystopian story but this was certainly not it. Maybe it was just lost in translation for me but I did not like any moment of this story. The concept itself was an interesting idea but it was not delivered well at all. This is one of those stories where I am kicking myself for even starting. My gut told me to stay away but I didn’t listen and I paid for it. 1.5 hours of my life I won’t ever get back.